How to create an iPhone or Droid app for your business

Screen shot 2010-02-28 at 10.46.21 AM Last week I announced that the Drew McLellan iPhone and Droid apps were available.  I also promised that I’d walk you through the process I went through to create the apps.

To give you the kind of detail I want to share, this is going to end up being a few blog posts, rather than one novella of a post!  Today, let’s focus on who I was going to partner with to get the app done.

Exploring the options

Once I decided that I had better jump on the mobile bandwagon, I sought out Mike Sansone — who many of you may know, was my blog coach when I got started and is still my Go-To guy when I need to learn something new in the space.

I asked Mike to take me on a tour of the potential vendors and help me gauge the pros and cons of each.  (A side note… there are many brilliant app designers out there but I knew I didn’t need or want something that custom.  So I wanted an off the shelf solution that I could customize a bit to make it my own.)

Mike showed me the following sites:

iSites (http://isites.us):  This is a new player to the space.  

Pros:

  • Price was right… One time $25 fee if they got to choose the ads that appeared in your app’s footer banner (all family friendly) or $99 a year if you selected the ads you’d allow.
  • They’d do all the work of submission to Apple etc.
  • Also would build a Droid version
  • Allowed the app user to share your content via Facebook & Twitter
  • With the $99 version, you could monetize your app if you wanted

Cons:

  • You had to have ads on your footer banner
  • They are new in the space…not a lot of feedback (good or bad) about them yet
  • No push (send messages to app subscribers) yet

Mother Apps (http://www.motherapp.com/

Pros:

  • Clearly vetted — Guy Kawasaki and Chris Brogan among others use them
  • Free if you allow ads (which you can share in the revenue), $99 a year for the no ad version
  • They’d do all the work of submission to Apple etc.
  • fast — you could have your app in the Apple Store within 7-10 days of submission

Cons:

  • Not a lot of customizing can be done — pretty much your blog feed, your Twitter feed and one other option (most use YouTube it seems)
  • No push (send messages to app subscribers) yet
  • No Droid or Blackberry versions yet (but their site says they are coming soon)

AppMakr (http://www.appmakr.com/)

Pros:

  • Lots of big names are using them (Inc., Seth Godin, AllTop)
  • Very fast turnaround (Could be available in a day or two)
  • $200 one time fee
  • They’d do all the work of submission to Apple etc.
  • Phone tech support available ($120/hour)
  • Can customize the app’s tabs

Cons:

  • No push (send messages to app subscribers)
  • No Droid or Blackberry versions yet

Mobile Roadie (http://www.mobileroadie.com/)

Pros:

  • Vetted and used by people like Dan Pink and Ashton Kutcher
  • Incredibly easy interface and content management tool
  • Publishes with built in multi-language support
  • Has push capabilities
  • Already building Droid apps too
  • They do all the work of submission to Apple, Droid, etc.
  • Lots of viral features — users can share your content via Facebook, Twitter, e-mail
  • No ads

Cons:

  • Most expensive of the bunch — $500 set up fee ($200 more if you want push)
  • $29/month fee

 

I’m sure there are other vendors out there — these are just the ones we looked at.  As I learned more about what was available, I was also able to sort out my own priorities.  Here’s how they shook out:

  • Ease of use — I wanted a content management system that I could handle on my own
  • I wanted to be able to share more than just my blog feed and tweets
  • I didn’t want to be limited to iPhone users so I wanted to publish for other platforms like the Droid
  • I wanted the push functionality
  • I wanted to be able to customize the navigation (both labels and order)
  • I wanted users to be able to share (Facebook, Twitter etc.) my content from the app
  • I wanted to be able to link to my books (with easy access to buy)

In the end, despite the higher cost — I decided on Mobile Roadie.  They offered more customization and the ability for me to really include a wider variety of content in my app.  But it was their content management system that really won me over.

In another post this week, I’ll give you a tour of just how easy it was for me to add content and create the look/feel of my app.

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6 comments on “How to create an iPhone or Droid app for your business

  1. Cyndi Papia says:

    Wow, what a great list of resources, Drew. Thank you for sharing your experience and sharing the pros and cons AND your final decision.

  2. Cyndi,

    You’re more than welcome. I’ll continue the story this week as I talk about how it actually got put together.

    Drew

  3. agib says:

    this may seem like a silly question, but if you get to create an app…and you charge for it…who gets those dollars or how are they allocated?

  4. Not a silly question at all. If you create an app and charge a download fee — you split the money between you and Apple.

    From what I hear, they take about half.

    Drew

  5. Mac says:

    In this article they have specified lots of app builders but The best possible solution I have found is trendy app builder. it is charging no set up fee only 19.95/month and offering lots of features like e- commerce, twitter, facebook, foursquare, gowalla, image galley, streaming audio, video player, check out here http://www.trendyflash.com/products_app.asp

  6. Usman says:

    really creative information about mobile business and helpful and i appreciated with you and and i like your post.
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